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‘Frozen slices of Americana’: Pabst Blue Ribbon goes experiential with branded motel rooms

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‘Frozen slices of Americana’: Pabst Blue Ribbon goes experiential with branded motel rooms

Since the beginning of the month, diehard fans of Pabst Blue Ribbon have been able to book three tricked-out motel rooms — one arcade-themed room, one dive bar room and one recreation room — at the Grand Traverse Motel in Traverse City, Michigan. The rooms are part of an experiential effort from the brand, as it aims to translate how people feel about PBR into real life.

“When you think of Pabst as a place that can exist in your mind it’s really warm, inviting, nostalgic, no thrills, it’s timeless,” said Nick Reely, vp of marketing at Pabst Blue Ribbon. “What sort of real life location would evoke those same feelings? A motel. [Motels are] inviting, they don’t know class. [People staying there] can be affluent or on a budget. They’re frozen slices of Americana.”

With this experiential effort, led by PBR’s new agency DNA, which will oversee its overall marketing strategy, the brand is looking to tap into what people think of when they think of PBR — that it’s “classic, traditional, Americana,” explained Reely. The motel rooms, which are decorated with bespoke items like a jukebox made to spit out a PBR, are available to rent until Labor Day. Roughly 70 people are expected to have stayed in the rooms throughout the campaign. 

Focusing on a “one-to-one, high touch” experience with fans can help build more “favoritism, fandom and loyalty,” noted Reely, when asked about the intimacy of the effort. Still, the brand will amplify the experiential offering by working with paid partners who will visit the motel, experience it and share their experiences on their social channels. For this aspect of the campaign, PBR has chosen partners it already works with, including comedians and professional skaters, as well as pro-wrestler Matt Cardona and his wife Chelsea Greene, rather than tapping social influencers based on follower count, noted Reely.

It’s unclear how much PBR spent on the experience, as Reely declined to share the brand’s budget for the effort. But Reely did share that experiential makes up roughly a sixth of PBR’s media budget this year — a slight increase over 2021 — with the rest of the budget divided among channels like billboards, audio, streaming video and social. 

Per Kantar, PBR spent $506,668 on media in 2021, with the majority going toward digital and out-of-home placements, up slightly from $431,555 in 2020. In the first quarter of 2022, the brand spent $25,310 on media. However, Kantar’s data does not include spending on social media placements. 

Leaning into experiential at this moment makes sense to Greg Erdelyi, executive creative director and partner at brand consultancy Prophet. “People are going out more now,” said Erdelyi. “They’re traveling, flooding airlines. Brands are as exuberant as people to return to in-person experiences.”

As for depending on people attending the experience to amplify the effort, that approach fits with the move toward user-generated content that has become more common among brands. 

“There’s been a shift from storytelling to storydoing,” explained Alasdair Lennox, group executive creative director of experience, Americas, for Landor & Fitch, who added that this approach gives power over the brand to the attendees. “The people who book the rooms no longer are just guests but influencers. They’re going to put it on all their channels, tell their world.  [PBR] is getting themselves out of the way and letting fans of the beer become the storytellers for the brand.”

Going forward, PBR would like to do more experiential marketing that evokes the feeling of the brand in-person, Reely said.

One thing the brand has no plans to do, however, is lean into its affordability in advertising, despite the talk of a looming recession. 

“We’re not paying too much attention to the recession [chatter],” said Reely. “We know we offer good value but we don’t see price as the primary reason people purchase PBR. Creating messaging around cheapness or being inexpensive is not in our bag, we’re not really doing that. We love to be seen as good value for the money but not that you’re making a concession when you consume or love our product.”

https://digiday.com/?p=462026

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NASA Says Hurricane Didn’t Hurt Artemis I Hardware, Sets New Launch Window

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NASA Says Hurricane Didn’t Hurt Artemis I Hardware, Sets New Launch Window

NASA’s Artemis I moon mission launch, stalled by Hurricane Ian, has a new target for takeoff. The launch window for step one of NASA’s bold plan to return humans to the lunar surface now opens Nov. 12 and closes Nov. 27, the space agency said Friday. 

The news comes after the pending storm caused NASA to scrub the latest Artemis I Iaunch, which had been scheduled for Sunday, Oct. 2. As Hurricane Ian threatened to travel north across Cuba and into Florida, bringing rain and extreme winds to the launch pad’s vicinity, NASA on Monday rolled its monster Space Launch System rocket, and the Orion spacecraft it’ll propel, back indoors to the Vehicle Assembly Building at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. 

The hurricane made landfall in Florida on Wednesday, bringing with it a catastrophic storm surge, winds and flooding that left dozens of people dead, caused widespread power outages and ripped buildings from their foundations. Hurricane Ian is “likely to rank among the worst in the nation’s history,” US President Joe Biden said on Friday, adding that it will take “months, years, to rebuild.”

Initial inspections Friday to assess potential impacts of the devastating storm to Artemis I flight hardware showed no damage, NASA said. “Facilities are in good shape with only minor water intrusion identified in a few locations,” the agency said in a statement. 

Next up, teams will complete post-storm recovery operations, which will include further inspections and retests of the flight termination system before a more specific launch date can be set. The new November launch window, NASA said, will also give Kennedy employees time to address what their families and homes need post-storm. 

Artemis I is set to send instruments to lunar orbit to gather vital information for Artemis II, a crewed mission targeted for 2024 that will carry astronauts around the moon and hopefully pave the way for Artemis III in 2025. Astronauts on that high-stakes mission will, if all goes according to plan, put boots on the lunar ground, collect samples and study the water ice that’s been confirmed at the moon’s South Pole. 

The hurricane-related Artemis I rollback follows two other launch delays, the first due to an engine problem and the second because of a hydrogen leak.

Hurricane Ian has been downgraded to a post-tropical cyclone but is still bringing heavy rains and gusty winds to the Mid-Atlantic region and the New England coast.

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What You Get in McDonalds’ New Happy-Meal-Inspired Box for Adults

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What You Get in McDonalds’ New Happy-Meal-Inspired Box for Adults

You’ve pulled up to McDonald’s as a full-on adult. You absolutely do not need a toy with your meal, right? Joking. Of course you do.

The fast-food chain will soon sell boxed meals geared toward adults, and each one has a cool, odd-looking figurine inside. 

The meal has an odd name — the Cactus Plant Flea Market Box — that’s based on the fashion brand collaborating with McDonald’s on this promotion. 

According to McDonald’s, the box is inspired by the memory of enjoying a Happy Meal as a kid. The outside of the box is multicolored and features the chain’s familiar golden arches. 

The first day you can get a Cactus Plant Flea Market Box will be Monday, Oct. 3. Pricing is set by individual restaurants and may vary, according to McDonald’s. It’ll be available in the drive-thru, in-restaurant, by delivery or on the McDonald’s app, while supplies last.

You can choose between a Big Mac or 10-piece Chicken McNuggets. It will also come with fries and a drink.

Now about those toys. The boxes will pack in one of four figurines. Three of the four appear to be artsy takes on the classic McDonald’s characters Grimace, Hamburglar and Birdie the Early Bird, while the fourth is a little yellow guy sporting a McDonald’s shirt called Cactus Buddy.

In other McD news, Halloween buckets could be returning to the chain this fall. So leave some room in your stomach for a return trip.

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Why companies like iHeartMedia, NBCU rely on homegrown IP to build metaverse engagements

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Why companies like iHeartMedia, NBCU rely on homegrown IP to build metaverse engagements

To avoid potential blowback from a skeptical audience, retailers as well as media and entertainment companies are learning to invest in their homegrown intellectual properties while building virtual brand activations inside Roblox or Fortnite.

Take, for instance, when they get it wrong.

Earlier this week, Walmart launched its own Roblox world — called Walmart Land — and was roundly mocked for it across social media given the announcement’s disjointed brand message and apparent lack of life. In one viral tweet, a Twitter user described a clip of Walmart CMO William White introducing the Roblox space as “one of the saddest videos ever created.”

This video of Walmart’s chief marketing officer on a stage in Roblox talking about its new “Walmart Land” experience is one of the saddest videos ever created. pic.twitter.com/HtIIToShKs

— Zack Zwiezen (@ZwiezenZ) September 26, 2022

To some extent, this sort of criticism is to be expected during the early days of the metaverse.

“Walmart is an iconic brand; when you see them coming into a platform like Roblox, people are going to be 10 times more critical of what is being launched,” said Yonatan Raz-Fridman, CEO of the Roblox developer studio Supersocial.

But Walmart’s size is not its only disadvantage as it dips its toes into Roblox. Although Walmart has a widely recognizable brand, it owns few intellectual properties that users are actually interested in experiencing virtually — a shortcoming reflected by the somewhat cavernous emptiness of Roblox’s Walmart Land.

Provided by NBCUniversal

The success of other recent brand activations is evidence that media and entertainment brands are better equipped to build metaverse spaces that can dodge online skepticism, thanks to their wealth of owned IP.

“They are having to reinvent themselves, to a certain degree, but that is in their DNA,” said Jesse Streb, global svp of technology and engineering at the agency DEPT. “So they have a unique advantage over, say, some kludgy company that sells lumber, or a construction company.”

For example, iHeartMedia’s Roblox and Fortnite spaces were inspired by the mass media corporation’s wealth of popular real-life events, such as the Jingle Ball Tour and iHeartRadio Music Festival, with virtual versions of musicians like Charlie Puth performing pre-recorded concerts that allow real-time audience interaction.

“There’s a strong brand association with the IP, down to a station level — you’re in the New York area, you probably know Z100,” said iHeartMedia evp of business development and partnerships Jess Jerrick. “The same is true for the event IP, or the IP that we now have in the podcasting space, and of course our radio broadcast talent. So there’s no shortage of really strong IP we can bring into these spaces.”

Translating real-life properties into the metaverse is also an enticing prospect for brands that view metaverse platforms as an experimental marketing channel, allowing them to bring tried-and-true IP into their virtual activations instead of designing them from the ground level. This was part of the strategy behind the recent Tonight Show activation in Fortnite Creative, which was designed in collaboration between NBCUniversal and Samsung. “We’re looking at it holistically — how do we find fans in new ways, and use IP that fans love in new ways?” said NBCU president of advertising and client partnerships Mark Markshall.

Since opening on Sept. 14, iHeartLand has already enticed over 1.5 million Roblox users to visit. The company aims to retain that attention with a schedule of virtual programming featuring popular musicians and personalities.

“At our core, we are essentially an influencer network; our broadcast talent are some of the most connected, most engaging influencers at work in media today,” said Conal Byrne, CEO of iHeart Digital Audio Group. “That gives us this sort of superpower, to be able to go into new-ish platforms, like Roblox or Fortnite, because we talk to our listeners through those influencers.”

https://digiday.com/?p=468395

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